July 3, 2014
In a recent op-ed (2 July), Friends of the European Commission – which is made up of former EU officials and private sector representatives – is proposing a number of ideas on how to improve the efficiency of the Commission in order to better meet the expectations of member states and citizens.
Overall, the proposals are interesting and well worth discussing though some of them at first glance may seem either politically unfeasible or to some extent already implemented by the Commission. I would like to add a few proposals of my own.
When discussing organizational change one cannot avoid mentioning the role of human resource management in all its aspects. A major change was made some years ago in the recruitment tests with more emphasis on skills and team work.
However, there has also been a shift from permanent staff to temporary contract agents. What does this imply for the professionalism and the historical memory of the staff?
Friends of the European Commission rightly points to the need for better communication and reconnecting with people. It seems that DG Connect has taken the lead in this process and is supporting projects with focus on engagement with stakeholders and citizens.
Another issue, also raised by the Friends of the European Commission, concerns the need for evaluation and audit of regulations, programmes and activities. Functions are already in place for this but could probably be improved.
While most Directorates-General have their own evaluation unit or function, there is no central evaluation function for cross-cutting issues or policies. What does this imply for independent evaluations of complicated programmes?
The Commission has since years an Internal Audit Service (IAS). Making its reports public (where possible) would increase accountability and transparency. Considering the “silo-effect”, mentioned by Friends of the European Commission, more horizontal audits of common problems or functions could contribute to mitigating this effect.